Food for Thought: Exchange Seeks Feedback on School Meals Overseas



DALLAS – To improve school lunches at Department of Defense schools overseas, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is going straight to the experts—parents and students.

From Feb. 5 through 16, students at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools and their parents can visit to participate in a survey about the Exchange’s school meal program in Europe and the Pacific.

Survey results will be used to assess the popularity of meal choices and drive possible menu changes at DoDEA schools. The Exchange last surveyed parents and students about its school meal program in 2009.

Survey participants can choose their favorite menu items and provide general feedback about school meals at their location. Both parents and students may take the survey—even grade-schoolers are encouraged to take the survey with the assistance of a parent.

“The Exchange wants to provide Warfighters’ children with the options kids crave at the nutritional standards parents demand,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor. “We want families to tell us how we’re doing as far as meeting that goal so we can continue to improve lunchtime at DoDEA schools.”

Nutritional standards for DoDEA student meals are set by the Exchange’s registered dietitian in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture guidelines. Requirements include:

• All menu items are baked and never fried.
• Meals must have zero grams of trans fat.
• All breads, buns, dinner rolls, rice, macaroni, spaghetti pasta, tortillas and entrée breading are rich in whole grains (made with at least 50 percent whole grain flour).
• All meals served must include a fruit or vegetable. Students may choose from a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables including carrots, broccoli, oranges and more.
• Meals adhere to nutrient standards for calories, sodium and fat for different age groups.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Exchange served 2.6 million lunches to children at 78 DoDEA school cafeterias. The Exchange also operates overseas plants that provide whole-grain baked goods—all made using American flour—to DoDEA schools.

One hundred percent of Exchange earnings support military Quality-of-Life programs, including below-cost school lunches for Warfighters’ children overseas, Child Development Centers and Fitness Centers on Army garrisons and more.

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